Nightkill Blu-ray Review: A Deadly Bore

Intended to be Jaclyn Smith’s break-out role into movies (this was was right in the middle of Charlie’s Angels mania), Nightkill instead went almost straight to TV (after a very, very limited theatrical run) where it died a quick death. One look at its lurid poster featuring Jaclyn Smith naked in a shower while a sinister-looking shadow comes in behind her or the cast list featuring Robert Mitchum and Mike Connors (fresh in the middle of his popular Mannix role) and you might wonder why its taken so long for it to come to home video. After watching, I have to wonder why Kino Lorber bothered with it at all.

Jaclyn Smith plays a bored, rich housewife who suffers constant abuse from her industrialist husband (Connors) all the while cheating on him with a smooth playboy (James Franciscus). One night after a tirade of verbal assaults, the lover poisons the husband, stuffs him in the freezer, and hatches a plan to run away with Smith using some secret money that Connors kept in a lock box at the airport.

When Robert Mitchum’s police detective comes snooping around, Smith freaks out and looks in the freezer only to discover it’s not her husband but her lover hiding out dead in it. What follows is clearly indebted to Diabolique and Psycho but contains none of the artistry (or even competence) of either. There is a scene in about the middle of the film in which Smith stuffs the dead lover into her car and zooms off in the middle of the night to hide the corpse at a scrap yard. There is an accident which backs up traffic and has the police out and about. It should be an incredibly tense scene but director Ted Post rushes so quickly through it I didn’t even realize what had happened until after thinking about it a minute.

There is a decent little car chase in the scrap yard in which someone looking an awful lot like the husband smashes into Smith with a giant piece of machinery. The final act in which she finally gets into that shower contains some gruesome-looking special effects, but other than that the movie is a total bore. Even the great Robert Mitchum can’t elevate it on any level as he seems to be sleepwalking through the entire film. I hope he at least got a nice paycheck for it.

Audio/Video quality on this release is adequate. The video looks a little flat and the colors certainly don’t pop in any way, but it’s clean enough. Likewise, the sound comes out alright and the dialogue is clear but it’s not going to get anyone excited about it.

Extras include an informative (albeit slightly strained) commentary from film historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson. There’s also a new 1- minute interview with Jaclyn Smith who discusses her career. Additionally, you’ll find a teaser trailer for the film plus additional trailers for four other films.

I made the mistake of watching those trailers before diving into the movie. Not paying a lot of attention, I thought the trailer for Stone Cold Dead (about a sniper who puts a camera on the end of his rifle while he kills hookers) was the trailer for Nightkill. Stone Cold Dead looks like a lot of dumb fun and the entire time I was watching Nightkill I kept waiting for the sniper to come out. It was both confusing and disappointing. Which pretty much sums up Nightkill in a nutshell.

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Mat Brewster

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